Who is that birdie in the window?

Nina at HomeNina is a 13 year old Jardine’s Parrot. She hatched on February 20, 2000 in Sheboygan Wisconsin and came to her new home in Chicago by late March. Her ancestors are from Africa and her subspecies, Masai Red-headed Jardine, is prolific in Kenya and Tanzania.  Nina was a wee thing when she came home, with a baby’s unsteady neck , and was hand fed with a syringe for several weeks. As soon as she was old enough, she became a commuter Parrot, travelling daily to and from the spa in a little carrier.

Nina loves to be in the midst of activity and be the recipient of attention. When at Allyu, she prefers this interaction from the safety of her enclosed cage. Is she being illusive with you? Turn your head, look at her from the side and blink. Predators (humans) have eyes on the front of their head and prey (birds) have eyes on the sides. We may see it as confident interaction to look wide-eyed and directly into another’s eyes, but Nina’s instincts may make her feel a bit stalked. Looking from the side and blinking with casual trust shows that there is no predator/prey relationship in play.

Nina does talk but has a limited vocabulary. “Step up” is one her favorite terms at home when she wants to be picked up or manually moved to a different location. If adamant, she will stand on the edge of her cage, lifting her feet alternately, repeating “step up step up step up…” until she is either worn out or accommodated. She loves to say and play “peek-a-boo” and will also use this term if she can’t see you and wants the obstacle removed. Nina laughs at disturbingly appropriate times, seemingly revealing a rather morbid sense of humor. There are also an assortment of “hello’s” and coo’s and sounds that have their special meanings to her. She usually vocalizes quietly but can flaunt her powerful bird lungs when excited. If the seagulls are playing over the river, she can screech with shared enthusiasm. Nina is also known to bellow an embarrassing cat call whistle if someone enters the spa that catches her fancy. Parrots are known for instant attraction. If you are the recipient of this socially inappropriate behavior, please know it’s a genuine compliment.

Does she bite? Yes. Sometimes it’s just out of excitement. Her beak acts as an appendage for her. She uses it to pick things up, climb, feel around, etc. If she’s grabbing at your soft finger with her beak, it won’t be pleasant. There are also times she bites from fear or just good old fashioned anger. I was once out of town for several days and, upon return, went straight to her for reunion and attention. I lifted her to my face and gave her a customary kiss on the beak. She bit my lip ferociously, laughed hysterically while blood dripped down my face, hopped back onto her cage and turned her back to me. I’ve learned to ease my way back into her good graces from a distance after time away.

Nina will be at Allyu MOST days that I am there. She’s usually thrilled at our morning routine and as soon as she sees me gathering my belongings, she’s on the edge of her cage, ready to go. However, there are random days that she refuses. She’ll hide behind her play things or climb down the back of the cage, avoiding my attempts to gather her up. I respect the need for a day alone and let her be.

Jardine’s have been raised in captivity for only a short time and word is still out on anticipated lifespan. 30-60 years seems to be the consensus but that’s a big spectrum. Either way, she’s still a young lady with plenty of time to enjoy life and entertain us all.

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